The Obama years were terrible. Obama was a weak, vacillating president who grew increasingly discredited over his eight years in power. The USA’s image and the perception of its might declined dramatically. It was, like Britain in 1926, a leading world power but it lost its air of invincibility. Rather than being able to dictate terms with a minimal amount of negotiation as it could have a mere 20-30 years earlier, it could merely lead negotiations and use its leverage to persuade smaller countries to come around to its view.
This blow to prestige was harder for the US to bear than Britain. The British had a collective memory of ups and downs, of calamities, failures, defeats — and, ultimately, rebirth. It really should have come as no surprise that they would have plumbed for a “daddy’s home” figure following the increasingly torturous Obama era. “Daddy” has proven to be a plonker who comes home with the stench of an evening’s chundering on his breath and a prostitute on each arm.
Years of growing unease about the US, internationally speaking, finally started to sharpen and grow more focused. Tourist numbers have started tapering off significantly. I don’t necessarily think this is only the fault of God-Emperor-President Don the One. Rather, it’s the culmination of years of problems and concerns. Countless holidaymakers have complained bitterly about US passport control and customs. I’ve personally witnessed Scandinavian holidaymakers harassed by them. I can’t say that my experiences have always been heart-warming, either. Let’s not even start about TSA!
The US has grown increasingly expensive and not only because of the relative decline in the strength of European and Asian currencies. I’ve been able to find reasonable accommodation in London, Stockholm and Oslo for £50-£70 a night. Anything that isn’t a rat-infested dive that comes with the benefit of at least 7 highly contagious diseases in San Francisco or Los Angeles costs at least £110-£150. There are, of course, cheaper areas but that would no longer be comparing apples with apples. The high cost, increased hassle and surge in unpleasant experiences hasn’t made the US quite the destination it once was.
The death of Justine Damond might well become a watershed moment for the US. We’ve been regaled with stories of Seppo police shooting first and asking questions later for years. More often than not, the incidents the largely left-wing US media chose to highlight ended up being more complex than they’d let on. A mentally ill drug addict having withdrawals outside his Alabama caravan is unlikely to gain overwhelming public sympathy if he’s shot to death by police. That he might well be otherwise harmless and unarmed is irrelevant if he is a person of pallor. The great and good in SF and NYC couldn’t be arsed to care because that wouldn’t fit their narrow narrative. Things in this vein happen very often — almost every day, in fact.
Now, an unarmed woman in a posh neighbourhood in one of the USA’s better cities was shot dead with no provocation or cause. All she did was telephone the police to report a suspected sexual assault. The patience of much of the civilised world, a patience that’s come under increasing strain over the years, has seemingly snapped. The way a number of Seppos have responded* — frankly racist innuendo and an inability to acknowledge or accept that the US has serious issues with crime — hasn’t helped in the least.
- I edited this portion. My original phrasing was far too broad. Many Americans have responded with shock and horror. A few have written me to express their dismay at the rabid rhetoric of some of their countrymen.